BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After the framework of a deal for a new Buffalo Bills stadium was agreed to in March, the team officially released the first renderings of the future stadium almost exactly seven months later.
Ron Raccuia, executive vice president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, said Thursday on WGR 550 in Buffalo that the renderings are "effectively" what the stadium will look like outside of minor tweaks.
The images include one look at the exterior of the stadium and one of the interior of the open-air stadium, which includes stacked seating and a canopy overhang to protect fans from the elements.
The canopy will cover 65% of the seats and help protect against wind and precipitation. It will work together with the perforated multidimensional exterior skin of the stadium that creates wind confusion to prevent swirling winds from getting to the field level.
Outside the stadium includes a plaza the team is calling "family circle" that features three large buffalo statues. The Bills want the plaza to be a gathering site year-round for the community and said the exterior was built to highlight "the team's desire for a visual identity that reflects some of the historical architecture of Buffalo, while also delivering a modern appearance." The exterior allows for some visual of inside the stadium from the outside.
The stadium is scheduled to open in 2026 and will be across the road from where the Bills' current stadium, Highmark Stadium, is in Orchard Park, N.Y., where the team's practice facility is also located. The Bills are working with architectural firm Populous as well as with Legends, a consulting group working on stadium development. Groundbreaking is expected in 2023.
Less than two weeks ago, the deadline was pushed back to complete the final negotiations on the $1.4 billion stadium until December in order for the state to complete an environmental impact study. The deadline, moved for the second time in a six-week span, will now be 30 days after that study is received.
"We're taking our time. We're working well with the state and the county," Raccuia said on WGR. "We've got another deadline. We'll continue to work every day to get it to the finish line. That's really where we're at. It's just one of those things that's just taking a little longer. Nothing to get concerned about. We'll keep progressing the way that we have been."
Funding for the stadium includes a record $850 million of public funding, with $600 million coming from New York state and $250 million from Erie County.
Highmark Stadium opened in 1973 and is the fourth-oldest NFL stadium.